The White Russian is a decadent and surprisingly easy-to-make cocktail. Combining vodka, Kahlúa and cream and serving it on the rocks creates a delicious alternative to adult milkshakes.
The White Russian came about in the ’60s when someone added a bit of cream to the Black Russian, rendering it white. Neither drink is Russian in origin, but the name refers to the vodka, a spirit often associated with Russia.
It would be a great story to say that the White Russian’s star rose from that point on, but that would not be true. The truth is the White Russian suffered a bit from a stodgy, antiquated reputation until the 1998 movie “The Big Lebowski” came along and breathed new life into the cocktail with Jeff Bridges’ character, the Dude, sipping it exclusively—and constantly. It’s one of popular culture’s best drinks-related successes, right up there with Carrie Bradshaw’s impact on the Cosmo. Of course, if you want to order it like the Dude, throw in the occasional call for a “Caucasian.” The barkeep will know what you mean.
When making a White Russian at home, choose a decent vodka (a Russian one, if you want to stay on theme) and a good heavy cream. Half-and-half can work in a pinch, but milk will produce a thin drink. Remember: You’re aiming for decadence.